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April 24, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota go 1-2

With Round 1 of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 30th in Chicago, the countdown is down to days instead of weeks. This update of my 2015 NFL Mock Draft includes all seven rounds and I'll make at least one final update prior to the actual draft.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

In addition, we've taken a way-too-early look ahead to next year's draft with our 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

When the Bucs released Josh McCown earlier this offseason, they gave us clear indication that this pick will be a quarterback. Some may debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but Winston has been the odds-on favorite for months and I still expect him to be the selection here.

[Related: Sportsbook.ag has set the odds for Winston being selected first overall at -700. In other words, you'd have to wager $7 to win $1.]

Although Winston's increase in interceptions were an issue last year, he has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

With Winston, of course, the biggest concern relates to off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. Assuming the Bucs feel comfortable with Winston as the face of their franchise, he is the selection here.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Do the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger enough to bypass Mariota here? The Tennessean's David Climer wrote that Mettenberger will be the team's quarterback in 2015 and that the Titans view Mettenberger as a "poor team’s" Tom Brady. Meanwhile, NFL Films' Greg Cosell recently said that he preferred Mettenberger over both Winston and Mariota.

For now, I will continue to slot Mariota here with Titans keeping this pick, but a number of teams, most notably Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Diego or St. Louis, could be highly interested in trading up with the Titans.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making athleticism for the position in addition to impeccable character off the field.

[Related: Winston and Mariota could potentially face each other as the Bucs host the Titans in Week 1. View full 2015 NFL schedule.]

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Recently, Florida's Dante Fowler said that he would be "shocked" if the Jags didn't select him. In a scenario where the top-two picks are quarterbacks and Williams is still available, however, I think the Jags go with Williams. The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. As an example, half of his seven sacks this season came from lining up on the edge and the other half came from lining up as a defensive tackle. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As much as the Raiders front office attempted to bolster their group of pass catchers in free agency, it was a big swing and miss for Oakland's front office.

Fortunately for the Raiders, they will have their choice of two elite wide receiver prospects in Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White based on how the top-three picks in this mock have played out. It's likely a win-win choice as I expect both prospects to have enormously successful careers. As Sean Beazley noted in our collaborative mock draft, the Raiders have had their fair share of misses on high first-round picks and may prioritize the higher level of safety of Cooper over the potential upside of White.

As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. Cooper is a great route-runner and the most pro-ready receiver in this draft class.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line could be a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection unlike in my way-too-early 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

Although Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, 2015 will be a contract year for him. In addition, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo signed with the Titans this offseason. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Jets' defensive line was the team's strength last season and their secondary was significantly upgraded in free agency with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie as well as the addition of Buster Skrine. Starting outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who turns 35 this season, will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season.

There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

In my last update, I had the Bears going with a wide receiver here, but given the depth of the position, there is a great chance to add a first-round talent with their second-round pick (No. 39 overall). As the Bears transition to a 3-4 scheme under Vic Fangio, they get their Day 1 starting nose tackle in Shelton. With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton barely come off the field and posted 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings this offseason should not rule out adding someone like Dupree.

Especially with the concerns -- Shane Ray's foot injury and Randy Gregory's failed drug test(s) -- of the other top pass-rushers still on the board, Dupree could move ahead of them come next Thursday. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

In my previous update, I had the G-Men adding Iowa's Brandon Scherff and I think that would be the debate here. That said, Jerry Reese strongly believes in going with the best player available and White could be the BPA on his board as he is on mine.

The Giants hit a home run with Odell Beckham Jr. last season and the addition of White opposite him and Victor Cruz in the slot would give the Giants one of the league's best trios of wide receivers. Rueben Randle is due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

The top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings, White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, G/T, Iowa

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line remains one of the team's units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 in both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season. As have many others, NFL Network's Mike Mayock compared Scherff to Zack Martin, a college left tackle that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. Mayock said of Scherff: "I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Perhaps the Vikings consider reuniting Teddy Bridgewater with his collegiate teammate DeVante Parker, but I think the team would be fine with Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace as the team's top-two wideouts going into the season with Cordarrelle Patterson as the wild card. Given the depth of wide receiver in this year's draft class, the Vikings could address the position in a later round, if desired.

Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and has the length that teams covet at the position. If he's still on the board here, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (for now) as well as several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity for the Vikings to climb their way to the top of the division.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. The Browns have added Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, but this position group is still a major weakness without Gordon. Plus the team lost tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency as well.

While quarterback remains an unsettled position, Parker would give the Browns -- and whomever is under center -- a true No. 1 wideout. Sidelined for the first seven games of 2014 with a broken foot, the 6-foot-3 Parker finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical" and "has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against both the run (29th) and pass (25th). I'd expect them to use one, if not both, first-round pick(s) on that side of the ball. In addition, New Orleans needs to put more pressure on the quarterback as they ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34) last season.

Gregory has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level. Gregory's failed drug test at the combine (and two confirmed failed tests in 2014 at Nebraska), however, means that he is likely to slide a bit (or a lot) on draft day. Not only does it show incredibly poor judgment on Gregory's part, but he already enters the league in phase 1 of the substance-abuse policy.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Lamar Miller had a breakout year as he rushed for a career-high 1,099 yards, 10th-most in the NFL, and eight touchdowns and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. In addition, he added 38 receptions for 275 yards and a score. That said, the Dolphins seemed reluctant to feed Miller the ball as he had just 216 carries all season and exceeded 15 carries in only three games.

Gurley has the potential to be a special player and he may not last until this spot even though he is coming off the injury. Drawing comparisons to Marshawn Lynch, Gurley is a physical and powerful runner with good vision and speed.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

What an offseason it has been in San Francisco! The surprising retirement of linebacker Patrick Willis was followed by an even more surprising retirement of his 24-year-old (expected) replacement Chris Borland. Plus, NaVorro Bowman is coming off a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season. I think they will address the inside linebacker position in the draft, but that's unlikely to be with the 15th overall pick.

The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Thursday morning, there were reports from NFL.com's Lance Zierlein that Ray's foot injury initially sustained during the school's bowl game would require surgery and he'd miss five months. Ray says that a foot specialist told him he won't need surgery. Either way, it's possible that Ray slips to No. 16 (or even further) due to the injury.

The Texans ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks (38) last season. Of course, last year's top-overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, missed almost all of last season. With 20.5 sacks for J.J. Watt, however, that means the rest of the team combined for only 17.5 sacks. Perhaps Houston would shy away as Clowney battled injuries last year, but Ray would ultimately form a dynamic trio with Watt and Clowney. Last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Ray had 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2
-> Continue to Round 3
-> Continue to Round 4
-> Continue to Round 5
-> Continue to Round 6
-> Continue to Round 7

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database or our 2016 NFL Mock Draft for an early look ahead.

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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April 22, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Collaborative Mock

The long wait until next week's 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago is nearly over.

Sean Beazley (@XtremeDynasty) and yours truly (@EDSFootball) have collaborated on this 2015 NFL Mock Draft. Sean has made all picks for the AFC teams; I picked for all NFC teams.

With that said, here is our 2015 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

KH: Without a doubt, the biggest concerns about Winston stem from his past off-the-field issues, which have been well-documented, and the club's ability to trust him going forward as the face of their franchise. On Monday, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said that "[i]f we had to pick today, we would feel very comfortable making the pick."

Provided they are "comfortable" with Winston off the field, he makes the most sense for them on the field. There are concerns on the field as well as Winston's interception rate jumped considerably -- one per 25.94 pass attempts in 2014 compared to one per 38.4 in 2013. As he continues to work on tightening up his elongated throwing motion, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills that could allow him to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

SB: The NFL Draft clearly starts at No. 2, as most people think Winston is a lock to go No. 1. The Titans have a ton of holes on both sides of the ball. The Philip Rivers rumors in my opinion are ridiculous. Rivers is a 33-year-old QB who has back concerns, and no mobility. He is a top-12 QB in the NFL, which is something the Titans haven't had since Steve McNair, but by the time the Titans are seriously ready to contend, Rivers will be well past his prime. At that point of his career, he would be no better than Kerry Collins or Matt Hasselbeck was to them. I would be 100% shocked if the Titans made that speculated trade.

I do think that these rumors are to try and jolt up the price for the No. 2 pick. The Titans are not going to get an RG3 type of trade offer for Marcus Mariota, but they could get two first-rounders to move down a few spots if someone is really in love with Mariota. I believe the Titans saw enough in Zach Mettenberger, mainly the Pittsburgh game where they believe he could be the future QB of this team. Drafting Mariota would be a mistake. I do believe they do their best to trade down since the top of the draft is full of their top need, and that is playmakers on the D-Line. Since I am not projecting trades, I will take the best overall player in the draft in Leonard Williams. Williams fits in perfectly with the Titans 3-4 defense.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

SB: I think Fowler is the one pick outside of Winston that I am most confident about. The Jaguars are in desperate need of an edge rusher. He is one of those hybrid type players who would be great in either a 4-3 as a DE or a 3-4 as a pass-rushing LB. The Jaguars were actually near the top of the NFL in sacks last year, but if you look at the team's sack leaders (Sen'Derrick Marks, Chris Clemons and Ryan Davis), they lack that elite talent. Fowler should provide a huge boost to their pass rush.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

SB: Some have West Virginia's Kevin White as the best WR in this years draft class, and his combine numbers were certainly impressive, but there is a big difference between the combine and actual game footage. Cooper played in the best conference in college football, and was a game changer on offense. The Raiders have swung and miss on a lot of early draft picks, so I feel they go with the safer of the two, although White projects to have a higher ceiling. Adding a playmaker for second-year QB Derek Carr is an absolute must.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

KH: Sean and I did not project trades into this mock, but there is at least a 50-percent chance that the Titans move their pick and Mariota doesn't get past the second overall pick. If he does, the Jaguars and Raiders could be in play as potential trade partners as both teams selected starting quarterbacks early in last year's draft with Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, respectively. Ultimately, if Mariota is on the board with Washington on the clock, I'd expect them to trade away this selection as much as I'd expect them to select Mariota. If they don't trade the pick in this scenario, however, let the drama begin continue ...

While the owner and head coach may differ on the state of the team's quarterback situation, it's clear that Jay Gruden views it as being unsettled as both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy started games in addition to RG3 last season. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly he will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making athleticism for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles. Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota, the reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

SB: The Jets are absolutely stunned with the pick right in front of them, as I think they thought they had Mariota in the bag, or a potential blockbuster to move down in the draft. Either way, OLB Beasley is a nice consolation. Adding quality pass-rushing linebackers to a 3-4 defense is almost a must in my book. Beasley provides them size, strength, and speed off the edge.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

KH: Earlier this offseason, the Bears traded away Brandon Marshall to the Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Battling injuries, Marshall struggled with a 61/721/8 line, which ended his streak of seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. While Alshon Jeffery unquestionably becomes the team's No. 1 wide receiver, he's due to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Certainly the Bears could go defense here, but adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would help to fill Marshall's void. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

KH: The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings this offseason should not rule out adding someone like Ray, who has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, G/T, Iowa

KH: It's a copy-cat league and the Giants could find themselves copying the success that the Cowboys had last season with the selection of Zack Martin, a college left tackle that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. NFL Network's Mike Mayock made the direct comparison: "When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."

Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer yards per carry than the Giants (3.6) and the Giants run-blocking graded out as 26th of 32 by PFF last season. Of 78 qualified guards graded by PFF last season, Weston Richburg and John Jerry graded out as 62nd and 66th, respectively.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

KH: Two of the team's top three cornerbacks -- Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson -- are due to become unrestricted free agents next offseason. Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, has the speed (4.31 40-yard dash), strength (19 reps at 225 pounds) and has the length (more than 6-foot) that teams covet at the position.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

KH: Adding more weapons for second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater makes sense. And the rapport that these former teammates already have could help to accelerate Parker's adjustment to the NFL game. Sidelined for the first seven games of 2014 with a broken foot, the 6-foot-3 Parker finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical" and "has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

SB: The Browns were dead last against the run last year, so naturally adding one of the best plugs up front should do wonders for this defense. Shelton should be able to step in and contribute Week 1. I think WR is another option, but once again my target (Parker) was taking right before my pick.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

KH: The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against both the run (29th) and pass (25th). I'd expect them to use one, if not both, first-round pick(s) on that side of the ball.

New Orleans needs to put more pressure on the quarterback as they ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

SB: Peters has some character concerns, but the Dolphins just took on Ndamukong Suh, who is always in trouble on the field. Brent Grimes is a top-10 corner in this league, but adding another quality CB in my opinion is a smart move for the Dolphins. With two potential shutdown corners and a ferocious front line, the Dolphins could turn into legit contenders in the AFC if their offense can figure it out this year.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

KH: Two of the biggest offseason surprises this year were the retirement of Patrick Willis and his expected replacement, Chris Borland. While their retirements combined with the devastating injury that forced NaVorro Bowman to miss all of last season means that the 49ers will need to address the position rather early, there isn't an inside linebacker that I'd draft at No. 15. (As I projected in my seven-round 2015 NFL mock draft, however, I expect the Niners to draft an ILB in Round 2.)

The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

SB: This is more of a BPA pick in my opinion. Gregory has had some off-the-field issues as well, mainly a couple of failed drug tests, but talent wise he is one of the best edge rushers in the draft. In pre-combine mock drafts, Gregory was projected as high as No. 2 to Tennesssee. Imagine the possibilities for the Texans on defense with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Gregory. As a fan of one of their division rivals, it scares me.

[Editor's note: As a Titans' fan, perhaps you should have selected Mariota at No. 2 ... at least, he has a better chance to run away from that trio.]

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> View Kevin's 2015 NFL Mock Draft

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database or our 2016 NFL Mock Draft for an early look ahead.

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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April 10, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: April 10th Update

With only three weeks to go until the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago, I will continue to make (at least) weekly updates to my 2015 NFL Mock Draft and I have added Round 6 to this update.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us clear indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but there were reports prior to the combine that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.

Although the increase in interceptions were an issue last year, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. Even with the team working out both players on back-to-back days this week, it appears that Winston is the clear favorite here, however, provided Tampa feels comfortable with him as the face of their franchise.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Do the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger enough to bypass Mariota here? There have been reports out of Nashville that they do, but general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that they "like Zach," but are "[n]ot committing to anything now." Recently, one general manager told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora: "He's going second overall. I don't know to which team, but he's going second overall."

For now, I will slot Mariota here with Titans keeping this pick. A number of teams, most notably Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Diego or St. Louis, could be highly interested in trading up with the Titans.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making athleticism for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Recently, Florida's Dante Fowler said that he would be "shocked" if the Jags didn't select him. In a scenario where the top-two picks are quarterbacks and Williams is still available, however, I think the Jags go with Williams. The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. As an example, half of his seven sacks this season came from lining up on the edge and the other half came from lining up as a defensive tackle. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As much as the Raiders front office attempted to bolster their group of pass catchers in free agency, it was a big swing and miss for Oakland's front office.

Adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would make sense. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line could be a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection unlike in my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.

Although Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, 2015 will be a contract year for him. In addition, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo signed with the Titans this offseason. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength and their secondary was significantly upgraded in free agency with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and the addition of Buster Skrine. With both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace, who turns 35 this year, and Quinton Coples) due to become free agents after the 2015 season, the Jets should look to add pass-rush depth now.

There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Earlier this offseason, the Bears traded away Brandon Marshall to the Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Battling injuries, Marshall struggled with a 61/721/8 line, which ended his streak of seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. While Alshon Jeffery unquestionably becomes the team's No. 1 wide receiver, he's due to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. While he may not have as much upside as WVU's White, Cooper is a great route-runner and the most pro-ready receiver in this draft class.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings this offseason should not rule out adding someone like Ray, who has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa

It's a copy-cat league and the Giants could find themselves copying the success that the Cowboys had last season with the selection of Zack Martin, a college left tackle that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. NFL Network's Mike Mayock made the direct comparison: "When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."

Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer yards per carry than the Giants (3.6) and the Giants run-blocking graded out as 26th of 32 by PFF last season. Of 78 qualified guards graded by PFF last season, Weston Richburg and John Jerry graded out as 62nd and 66th, respectively.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line remains one of the team's units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 in both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season. Better as a run blocker than he is a pass protector currently, Peat has the length and foot quickness to develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL some day. With Robinson and Peat, the Rams would have their bookend tackles for the next decade.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Perhaps the Vikings consider reuniting Teddy Bridgewater with his collegiate teammate DeVante Parker, but I think the team would be fine with Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace as the team's top-two wideouts going into the season with Cordarrelle Patterson as the wild card. Given the depth of wide receiver in this year's draft class, the Vikings could address the position in a later round, if desired.

Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and has the length that teams covet at the position. If he's still on the board here, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (for now) as well as several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity for the Vikings to climb their way to the top of the division.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

The Browns ranked last in the league in rushing defense (141.6 yards per game) last season and allowed 4.5 yards per carry, only three teams allowed more. Adding reinforcements along the defensive line to help shore up their run defense would make sense.

With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton barely come off the field and posted 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against both the run (29th) and pass (25th). I'd expect them to use one, if not both, first-round pick(s) on that side of the ball.

New Orleans needs to put more pressure on the quarterback as they ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

With strong options for a slot receiver (Jarvis Landry) and vertical receiver (Kenny Stills), the addition of Parker would give the team's receiving corps a true No. 1 wideout. Sidelined for the first seven games of 2014 with a broken foot, the 6-foot-3 Parker finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical" and "has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

What an offseason it has been in San Francisco! The surprising retirement of linebacker Patrick Willis was followed by an even more surprising retirement of his 24-year-old (expected) replacement Chris Borland. Plus, NaVorro Bowman is coming off a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season. I think they will address the inside linebacker position in the draft, but not with the 15th overall pick.

The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

Gregory has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level. Gregory's failed drug test at the combine (and two confirmed failed tests in 2014 at Nebraska), however, means that he is likely to slide a bit (or a lot) on draft day. Not only does it show incredibly poor judgment on Gregory's part, but he already enters the league in phase 1 of the substance-abuse policy.

The Texans ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks (38) last season. Of course, last year's top-overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, missed almost all of last season. With 20.5 sacks for J.J. Watt, however, that means the rest of the team combined for only 17.5 sacks.

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2
-> Continue to Round 3
-> Continue to Round 4
-> Continue to Round 5
-> Continue to Round 6

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database or our 2016 NFL Mock Draft for an early look ahead.

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

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March 31, 2015

2016 NFL Mock Draft -- Way-Too-Early Edition

With one month to go until the 2015 NFL Draft (April 30th in Chicago), I've decided to take a way-too-early look ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft.

It's nearly impossible to nail a mock draft minutes before it starts -- let alone 13 months beforehand. More than anything, the goal is to highlight some prospects and potential fits at this point. It's fair to say, this mock is going to look a lot different in 12 months than it does today.

Obviously one of the challenges of creating a mock draft this far in advance is that we have no idea what the draft order. Well, we have "some idea" given that the Seahawks or Patriots aren't going to be picking first overall, but you get the point.

In future updates (after the 2015 NFL Draft), the draft order used will be the inverse of our NFL power rankings until the real draft order is known.

For this update, I've used Super Bowl 50 odds from Sportsbook.ag beginning with teams with the lowest odds to the best odds to win it. In situations where two (or more) teams had identical odds, I used 2015 NFL strength of schedule as the tie-breaker. (The more difficult the schedule, the more likely they would have a worse record and hence higher pick.)

Where the order differs from the inverse order of odds to win the Super Bowl is that I made sure 12 playoff teams, six from the AFC and six from the NFC, had picks 21-32 with all eight divisions represented.

With all of that said, here is my way-too-early 2016 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (team draft history): Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
- Super Bowl odds: +300000; SOS: .463
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection (as of 3/27): Leonard Williams

As noted above, I used the inverse order of Super Bowl 50 odds to determine the draft order for this mock. That said, I personally believe that the Jags have taken a number of positive steps toward turning around the organization. In other words, I wouldn't be surprised if they did not have the first-overall pick.

If they do, however, the Jags could add another difference-making defensive line prospect to join Leonard Williams, the top-ranked prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board.

Per Phil Savage, one organization used Bosa's freshman campaign as a measuring stick for evaluating draft-eligible tackles in 2014 that faced Bosa in 2013. Building upon a strong freshman campaign, Bosa, whose father John was a first-round pick by the Dolphins, posted 13.5 sacks and 20.0 tackles for loss with four fumble recoveries for the national-champion Buckeyes as a true sophomore last season.

2. Tennessee Titans (team draft history): Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE, Mississippi
- Super Bowl odds: +300000; SOS: .435
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Marcus Mariota

Lofty expectations come with being the top-overall recruit in the nation and some may feel that hasn't fully lived up to those expectations, but Nkemdiche has a rare combination of size, power and athleticism (as seen in the vine below). Along with USC's Williams, he was named to the 2014 AP All-American Second Team at defensive tackle and one of his strengths, like Williams, is his versatility to play multiple positions along the line.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (team draft history): Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
- Super Bowl odds: +150000; SOS: .425
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Jameis Winston

In his two seasons as the Rebels' starting left tackle, Tunsil was named First-Team All-SEC last season after being a Second Team selection as a true freshman in 2013. Tunsil has allowed just two sacks in his two seasons with Ole Miss.

Based on PFF grades, the Bucs ranked 30th in the NFL in pass-blocking grades. After 13 games at right tackle, Demar Dotson played the last three games at left tackle for the Bucs. Adding a franchise-type left tackle to protect Jameis Winston, the top-overall pick in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft, would be a wise investment and allow the Bucs to shift Dotson back to right tackle.

4. Washington Redskins (team draft history): Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
- Super Bowl odds: +125000; SOS: .478
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Dante Fowler

A few different quarterbacks could be in play as the first-drafted quarterback in 2016. This mock has four signal-callers selected in the first half of the first round. Based on this draft order, the first three teams will have selected a quarterback with a top-three pick in the two most recent drafts -- Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), Tennessee (Mariota) and Tampa Bay (Winston).

That leaves Washington as the first team without one the team (or at least coaching staff) believes can develop into a franchise quarterback. While Washington will have the option to keep RG3 under team control in 2016, he's scheduled for free agency after the 2015 season.

If Cook had declared for the 2015 NFL Draft, I would have slotted him in behind Winston and Mariota but ahead of any other quarterbacks in the draft class. Cook has prototypical size (6-4, 220) and arm strength and all of the physical tools to be successful at the next level. Returning for his senior year should help him work on his footwork and improve his accuracy -- only 58.1 and 58.7 completion percentages over the past two seasons, respectively.

5. Oakland Raiders (team draft history): Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
- Super Bowl odds: +100000; SOS: .545
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Kevin White (WVU)

Selected First-Team All-SEC in both of his years in Gainesville, Hargreaves is the top cornerback prospect eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft. After Hargreaves' freshman season, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah has compared Hargreaves to ex-Gator Joe Haden. Hargreaves led the Gators with three interceptions as a true freshman and added three more last season despite offenses often looking the opposite direction.

6. Cleveland Browns (team draft history): Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Super Bowl odds: +100000; SOS: .543
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selections: DeVante Parker and Malcom Brown

What a three-game run it was for Cardale Jones to close the 2014 college football season! There was some debate whether or not he should strike while the iron was hot and declare himself eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft, but he ultimately decided to return and gain more experience. Returning to Columbus with J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller complicates matters, but one excecutive told Fox Sports: "Maybe he would have gone in the second round, but I think it's just as likely we could have gone in the top 10 or 15. Look at that body, that arm -- and look at his competition (in the 2015 draft)."

7. Minnesota Vikings (team draft history): Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
- Super Bowl odds: +6000; SOS: .539
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Trae Waynes

Had Stanley decided not to return to Notre Dame, there is a good chance that he would have been the first offensive lineman selected in this year's draft. Stanley started his (redshirt) freshman season at right tackle and took over for Zack Martin at left tackle in 2014. Stanley possesses the length and agility teams want in a left tackle and Matt Kalil, who is coming off a disappointing season, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

8. San Francsico 49ers (team draft history): A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .561
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Arik Armstead

With the size of a nose tackle (6-4, 320), Robinson has played both nose tackle and defensive end for the Crimson Tide. As a freshman, he actually led Alabama with 5.5 sacks. Starting nose tackle Ian Williams will be a free agent in 2016.

9. Chicago Bears (team draft history): Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .531
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Danny Shelton

A gruesome (broken) ankle injury ended his season in early November, but Treadwell appears to be recovering well and expects to be 100 percent in the summer and he's currently running routes "against air." Treadwell, who turns 20 in June, has a great combination of size (6-2, 229), strength and athleticism.

With Brandon Marshall traded to the Jets, Treadwell would fill that void, but Alshon Jeffery is also due to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason as well.

10. San Diego Chargers (team draft history): Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .518
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Todd Gurley

With Philip Rivers entering the final year of his contract, it's certainly possible that he will have already played his final game as a Charger by the time the 2016 NFL Draft rolls around. That said, I expect both sides to come to an agreement to keep Rivers in San Diego -- or Los Angeles? If they don't, however, Penn State's Christian Hackenberg or Cal's Jared Goff would make sense.

Younger brother of Kyle Fuller, who was selected in the first round by the Bears in 2014, Kendall has started all but of his 26 games with Virginia Tech and has a total of eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups in his two seasons. Although the Chargers have Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett under team control through the 2018 season, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

11. New York Jets (team draft history): Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .488
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Vic Beasley

After a strong freshman season (2,955 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions), Hackenberg threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (12) as a sophomore and his Y/A and completion percentages dropped from 7.54 to 6.15 and 58.9 to 55.8 percent, respectively. A new coaching staff (Bill O'Brien departed for the NFL), loss of his best receiver (Allen Robinson) and poor offensive line play (44 sacks vs. 21 in 2013) all contributed to his regression in year two. With a bounce-back season, Hackenberg, who has prototypical tools, could certainly be the top signal-caller off the board.

12. Buffalo Bills (team draft history): Jared Goff, QB, California
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .486
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: N/A

The Bills have loaded up on offensive skill-position players (LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay), but a big question mark remains at quarterback. If the Bills are going to make a push to take control of the AFC East from Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots, they need much better play at quarterback. As a true sophomore, the 6-foot-4 Goff threw for 3,973 yards with 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

13. New Orleans Saints (team draft history): Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .429
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Byron Jones

Boyd has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in both of his seasons at Pitt and has racked up 163 receptions for 2,435 yards and 15 touchdowns in his two seasons. Only 190 pounds at 6-foot-2, Boyd would benefit from adding some weight and strength, but Boyd has excellent ball skills, body control and athleticism to be the Saints No. 1 wide receiver opposite Brandin Cooks.

14. Houston Texans (team draft history): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
- Super Bowl odds: +5000; SOS: .417
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Dorial Green-Beckham

A rare two-way player, Jack was named the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2013. Jack played less offense as a sophomore, but he finished second on the team last season in tackles (88) behind Eric Kendricks, who won the Butkus award.

15. Carolina Panthers (team draft history): Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
- Super Bowl odds: +4500; SOS: .434
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: D.J. Humphries

Ramsey has played both cornerback and safety and took over Lamarcus Joyner's "Star" role last season. A five-star recruit out of high school, Ramsey was named to the 2014 AP All-American Second Team last season. Ramsey led the team in pass breakups (12) and finished second in tackles for loss (9.5), sacks (3.0) and interceptions (two). He also finished fourth in tackles (79) and had two forced fumbles.

16. Cincinnati Bengals (team draft history): Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
- Super Bowl odds: +4000; SOS: .563
- 2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st-round selection: Andrus Peat

The Bengals really struggled to get to the quarterback last season as no team had fewer sacks than the Bengals (20). Although he is a bit raw, Oakman is a physical freak at 6-foot-9 and 290 pounds and posted 11.0 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss last season for the Bears.

-> Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2016 NFL Mock Draft


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March 27, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: March 27th Update

With only five weeks to go until the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago, I will continue to make weekly updates to my 2015 NFL Mock Draft. This update includes an added round (Round 3) and the goal is to mock all seven rounds of the draft.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but there were reports prior to the combine that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.

Although the increase in interceptions were an issue last year, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. It appears that Winston is the clear favorite here, however, provided the team feels comfortable with him as the face of their franchise.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Do the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger enough to bypass Mariota here? There have been reports out of Nashville that they do, but general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that they "like Zach," but are "[n]ot committing to anything now." Recently, one general manager told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora: "He's going second overall. I don't know to which team, but he's going second overall."

For now, I will slot Mariota here with Titans keeping this pick. A number of teams, most notably Cleveland and Philadelphia, could be highly interested in trading up with the Titans.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As much as the Raiders front office wanted to bolster their group of pass catchers in free agency, it was a big swing and miss for Oakland's front office.

Adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would make sense. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line could be a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection.

Although Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, 2015 will be a contract year for him. In addition, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo departed via free agency this offseason. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength and secondary was significantly upgraded in free agency with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and the addition of Buster Skrine. With both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace, who turns 35 this year, and Quinton Coples) due to become free agents after the 2015 season, the Jets should look to add pass-rush depth now.

There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. The Bears also lost defensive tackle Stephen Paea in free agency as well.

With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings this offseason should not rule out adding someone like Ray, who has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

It's a copy-cat league and the Giants could find themselves copying the success that the Cowboys had last season with the selection of Zack Martin, a college left tackle that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. NFL Network's Mike Mayock made the direct comparison: "When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."

Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer yards per carry than the Giants (3.6) and the Giants run-blocking graded out as 26th of 32 by PFF last season. Of 78 qualified guards graded by PFF last season, Weston Richburg and John Jerry graded out as 62nd and 66th, respectively.

On a side note, perhaps it's just me that finds it funny, but Scherff was a 280-pound high school quarterback that had a 190-pound center and as he said, "it should really have been reversed."

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that next step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The team re-signed Kenny Britt in free agency, but the Rams get a nice value with Cooper, who is my seventh-ranked prospect overall.

As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. While he may not have as much upside as WVU's White, Cooper is more pro-ready than any receiver in this draft class and a great route-runner.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and I'm not sure that he'll make out of the top 10 come April 30th. If he's still on the board here, however, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (for now) as well as several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity for the Vikings to get to the top of the division.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. The Browns have added Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, but this position unit is still a weakness without Gordon. Plus the team lost tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency as well.

Sidelined for the first seven games of 2014 with a broken foot, the 6-foot-3 Parker finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical" and "has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against the run (29th) and pass (25th) -- and I wouldn't be surprised if they used both of their first-round picks on that side of the ball.

New Orleans needs to put more pressure on the quarterback as they ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): La'el Collins, G/T, LSU

Collins, a second-team 2014 AP All-American, started at left tackle for the Tigers in each of the past two seasons, but he also has starting experience (sophomore season) at left guard as well. As a whole, the Dolphins struggled in both pass and run blocking. Based on grades from PFF, the Dolphins ranked 31st in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking in 2014.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

What an offseason it has been in San Francisco! The surprising retirement of linebacker Patrick Willis was followed by an even more surprising retirement of his 24-year-old (and expected) replacement Chris Borland. With NaVorro Bowman returning from a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season, the 49ers will address the inside linebacker position in the draft. More than likely, however, I'd expect them to address that need in Round 2 or later.

The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility and can be Smith's long-term replacement.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

The Texans re-signed two starters -- cornerback Kareem Jackson and right tackle Derek Newton -- and added free agents at other positions of need -- nose tackle Vince Wilfork and safety Rahim Moore. Although the Texans have signed Cecil Shorts after releasing Andre Johnson, who signed with the Colts, there isn't much depth beyond DeAndre Hopkins and Shorts, who has consistently struggled with durability.

Off-the-field issues led to his dismissal from Mizzou (and subsequent transfer to Oklahoma), but Green-Beckham may have as much physical talent as any receiver in this year's draft class. One AFC scout told NFL Network's Albert Breer that DGB is "... special. He's gigantic; he has tremendous body control, balance; he runs like a deer and can leap out of the gym and high-point the ball. He's special. It's impressive. If not for all that stuff [off the field], he'd be the best receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson."

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2
-> Continue to Round 3

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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March 19, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency Update

More than a week into the new NFL league year (and free-agency period), nearly all of the top free agents have found new homes (or returned to their existing homes). While teams will continue to make moves, we have a fairly clear idea of what teams have what needs going into the 2015 NFL Draft.

This update of my 2015 NFL Mock Draft will include the first two rounds of the draft, but my goal is to add the other five rounds to this mock before April 30th in future updates.

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but there were reports before the combine that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.

Although the increase in interceptions were an issue last year, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. It appears that Winston is the clear favorite here, however, provided the team feels comfortable with him as the face of their franchise.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Personally, I think the Titans should take Mariota here. When it comes to what they will do, which is what I'm trying to project, I'm torn. In many previous versions of my mock including my previous update, I've slotted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner here. While they appear to be comfortable in giving second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger more time to prove that he's the answer, the team's general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that the team is "not in a position to commit to anything."

With the team re-signing Derrick Morgan and added Brian Orakpo in free agency, I do not expect them to use the No. 2 selection on one of the top edge guys. The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Especially considering they will have to face Andrew Luck for the next decade or so, it would make sense to add someone like Gregory, who has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As much as the Raiders front office wanted to bolster their group of pass catchers in free agency, it was a big swing and miss for Oakland's front office.

Adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would make sense. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. One concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line could be a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection. Another position group in need of major upgrades is the secondary and Michigan State's Trae Waynes could be in play here as well.

As noted earlier, Orakpo signed with the Titans in free agency. Meanwile, Ryan Kerrigan had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, but 2015 will be a contract year for him. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

If Mariota slips past the first two picks, it will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and the Eagles make a move to to take Mariota. If he's still on the board at this spot, the Jets should be thrilled.

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. The Bears also lost defensive tackle Stephen Paea in free agency as well.

With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Falcons really struggled to get to the quarterback over the past couple of seasons. Only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. The Falcons have added some pass-rushers -- Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield -- in free agency, but none of those guys are elite pass-rushers. In other words, their signings should not rule out adding someone like Beasley here.

There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Giants used their franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who bounced back and recorded 12.5 sacks after a career-low 2.0 in 2013. While the Giants and JPP have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal, they could find themselves in the same situation next offseason as Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News tweeted that the Giants are "not afraid" to let him play on his franchise tag.

Past successful Giants teams have thrived with a dynamic pass rush so adding another pass-rusher like Ray would make some sense even if Pierre-Paul is inked to a long-term deal. Albeit a bit undersized for defensive end at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Ray has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that next step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The team re-signed Kenny Britt in free agency, but the Rams get a nice value with Cooper, who is my seventh-ranked prospect overall.

As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. While he may not have as much upside as WVU's White, Cooper is as pro-ready as any receiver in this draft class and a great route-runner.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Common selections in previous updates of my mock draft were Iowa's Brandon Scherff and Louisville's DeVante Parker and I think both would still make sense here. That said, Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, really boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and I'm not sure that he'll make out of the top 10 come April 30th. If he's still on the board here, however, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (for now) as well as several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity for the Vikings to get to the top of the division.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. The Browns have added Brian Hartline (and maybe they'll add another free-agent receiver), but this position unit is still in the bottom quarter of the league without Gordon. Plus the team lost tight end Jordan Cameron in free agency as well.

A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of 2014, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Saints have made some shocking moves this offseason as they try to revamp their roster and salary cap. Last season, their defense was atrocious -- second-most yards allowed, fifth-most points allowed and bad against the run (29th) and pass (25th) -- and I wouldn't be surprised if they used both of their first-round picks on that side of the ball.

New Orleans ranked in the bottom eight in sacks (34) and there is a significant drop from Dupree and the next available pass-rusher. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

As a whole, the Dolphins struggled in both pass and run blocking. Based on grades from PFF, the Dolphins ranked 31st in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking in 2014. Scherff played left tackle at Iowa and while he could play tackle at the next level, he may be better at guard and starting guard Daryn Colledge is a free agent. Either way, Colledge graded out as the 74th of 78 qualified guards last season.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

What an offseason it has been in San Francisco! The surprising retirement of linebacker Patrick Willis was followed by an even more surprising retirement of his 24-year-old (expected) replacement Chris Borland. Plus, NaVorro Bowman is coming off a significant knee injury that kept him out all of last season. I think they will address the inside linebacker position in the draft, but not with the 15th overall pick.

The 49ers have added Darnell Dockett via a two-year deal, but he turns 34 in May and Justin Smith may retire this offseason. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

The Texans re-signed two starters -- cornerback Kareem Jackson and right tackle Derek Newton -- and added free agents at other positions of need -- nose tackle Vince Wilfork and safety Rahim Moore. Although the Texans have signed Cecil Shorts after releasing Andre Johnson, who signed with the Colts, there isn't much depth behind them and Shorts has consistently struggled with durability.

Off-the-field issues led to his dismissal from Mizzou (and subsequent transfer to Oklahoma), but Green-Beckham has as much physical talent as any receiver in this year's draft class. One AFC scout told NFL Network's Albert Breer that DGB is "... special. He's gigantic; he has tremendous body control, balance; he runs like a deer and can leap out of the gym and high-point the ball. He's special. It's impressive. If not for all that stuff [off the field], he'd be the best receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson."

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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March 06, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Free-Agency Update

With NFL free agency fast approaching, NFL teams will have an opportunity to address (some of) their needs starting next Tuesday by signing players on the open market. At the same time, new needs are created as teams release players either due to performance or salary-cap reasons.

Over the course of the next eight weeks, I will continue to make weekly updates to my 2015 NFL mock draft and add more rounds with the goal being a full seven-round mock.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate whether it should be Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the two previous Heisman Trophy recipients, but there were reports before the combine that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota.

Although the increase in interceptions were an issue last year, Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. Given the team recently had Winston in town to meet with ownership, at this relatively early stage in the process, it appears that Winston is the slam-dunk choice here provided the team feels comfortable with him as the face of their franchise.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Personally, I think the Titans should take Mariota here. When it comes to what they will do, which is what I'm trying to project, I'm torn. In many previous versions of my mock including my previous update, I've slotted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner here. While they appear to be comfortable in giving second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger more time to prove that he's the answer, the team's general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that the team is "not in a position to commit to anything."

The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Especially considering they will have to face Andrew Luck for the next decade or so, it would make sense to add someone like Gregory, who has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. ESPN's Adam Schefter said on the radio Thursday that the Raiders will "prioritize" impending free agents Randall Cobb and Julius Thomas, two of my top-four available free agents on the market.

If the Raiders don't sign Cobb and/or Thomas, adding the top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings would make sense. White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. The concern that some had about White prior to the combine was his long speed, but he has eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Given their leaky pass protection -- only the Jags allowed more sacks last season -- offensive line is a possibility here. Well, it's certainly a need, but it's questionable whether any of the offensive line prospects are worth a top-five selection. Another position group in need of major upgrades is the secondary and Michigan State's Trae Waynes could be in play here as well.

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will be an unrestricted free agent next week and Washington is not expected to re-sign him. Orakpo has been productive when healthy, but he has had a torn pectoral three times and has played a total of 24 games over the past three seasons. With a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, Ryan Kerrigan is about to enter a contract year as well. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) last season.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

If Mariota slips past the first two picks, it will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and the Eagles make a move to get in front of the Jets to take Mariota. If he's still on the board at this spot, the Jets would be thrilled.

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

Based on what ESPN's Louis Riddick was told at the combine, Mariota was "killing it" during interviews and that he was "as/more impressive" than Russell Wilson.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they likely transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 339), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles despite facing constant double teams last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Giants used their franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who bounced back and recorded 12.5 sacks after a career-low 2.0 in 2013. While the Giants and JPP have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal, they could find themselves in the same situation next offseason as Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News tweeted that the Giants are "not afraid" to let him play on his franchise tag.

Past successful Giants teams have thrived with a dynamic pass rush so adding another pass-rusher like Ray would make some sense even if Pierre-Paul is inked to a long-term deal. Albeit a bit undersized at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Ray has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that next step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. In addition, Kenny Britt, who played more than three-quarters of the team's offensive snaps, will be a free agent on Tuesday. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season. While he may not have as much upside as WVU's White, Cooper is as pro-ready as any receiver in this draft class and a great route-runner.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

A common selection in previous updates of my mock draft were Iowa's Brandon Scherff and Louisville's DeVante Parker and I think both would make plenty of sense here. That said, Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, really boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds and I'm not sure that he'll make out of the top 10 come April 30th. If he's still on the board here, however, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos in the league. With at least six games against Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler and several top-flight wide receivers in the division, a strong secondary is a virtual necessity to get to the top of the division.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. And while the team recently signed Josh McCown, who was released by the Bucs, his value as a mentor to Johnny Manziel is potentially a bigger value to the franchise than his on-field performance even if he opens as the Week 1 starter.

Regardless of which quarterback is under center, the Browns, who had a league-low 12 passing touchdowns last season, would be wise to improve the receiving corps for McCown or Manziel (or mystery quarterback). A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of 2014, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

As a whole, the Dolphins struggled in both pass and run blocking. Based on grades from PFF, the Dolphins ranked 31st in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking in 2014. Scherff played left tackle at Iowa and while he could play tackle at the next level, he may be better at guard and starting guard Daryn Colledge is a free agent. Either way, Colledge graded out as the 74th of 78 qualified guards last season.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): La'el Collins, G/T, LSU

Assuming that Mike Iupati, my top-ranked guard in free agency, is playing for another team in 2015, the 49ers will have a huge hole to fill at left guard. Collins, a second-team 2014 AP All-American, started at left tackle for the Tigers in each of the past two seasons, but he also has starting experience (sophomore season) at left guard as well.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Better as a run blocker than he is a pass protector, Peat has the length and foot quickness to develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL some day. For now, however, Texans starting right tackle Derek Newton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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February 27, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Combine Update

With the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine behind us, it feels like we are much closer to the 2015 NFL Draft, but we still have more than two months to go until Round 1 in Chicago on April 30th.

Over the course of the next two months, I will continue to make weekly updates and add more rounds until we mock out all seven rounds of the draft.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, the Bucs gave us further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate between Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota, but Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. Before the NFL Scouting Combine, however, reports were that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota and it's hard to imagine that changing given Winston's strong performance on the field and in meeting rooms.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Do the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger enough to bypass Mariota here? There have been some reports out of Nashville that they do, but general manager Ruston Webster said at the combine that they "like Zach," but are "[n]ot committing to anything now." Certainly, the Titans would be willing to listen to offers from interested Mariota suitors, but it's also clear that they need to get better quarterback play.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

With quarterback-needy teams in front of them, the Jags are the beneficiaries. The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. The top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings, White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has compared White to Julio Jones. The concern that some had about White was his long speed and eased all concerns after running a blazing 4.35 forty at the combine.

[Related: 2015 NFL Scouting Combine Results.]

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will be an unrestricted free agent next month and Washington is not expected to re-sign or franchise tag him. In addition, Ryan Kerrigan is entering a contract year, so adding a pass-rusher like Gregory would make sense here. Maintaining playing weight could be an issue for Gregory, who tipped the scales at only 235 pounds at the combine, but he has plenty of explosiveness and upside.

One scout told Bob McGinn of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal that he thinks "[Gregory's] better than Ziggy Ansah." Meanwhile, NFL Films' Greg Cosell compared Gregory positively to last year's first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney in terms of movement skills: "He's a better athlete than Clowney. He's more flexible. He's more explosive in his movement. Clearly, not as strong. Clowney could get inside and push back, but Clowney did not have the loose hips that this guy does. Gregory's a much more explosive mover, a much looser athlete. ... Gregory's kind of shifty and elusive in his movement. He's a quick-twitch, explosive guy laterally. Clowney was more straight-line power."

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

If Mariota slips to the Jets, certainly a possibility, there's a strong chance the slide would stop here. With Winston and Mariota gone and no available quarterback worth consideration here, Fowler is the top-ranked prospect on my board and fills a need for the Jets. The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength, but both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples) are due to become free agents after the 2015 season. Plus, Pace will turn 35 years old in October. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17).

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they likely transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 335), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. There were some concerns about Beasley's weight, but he was a rocked up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds at the combine without losing a step (4.53 forty) and posting 35 reps at 225 pounds. Not just a workout warrior, Beasley has been one of the nation's most productive pass rushers with a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

It appears that the Giants will at least use their franchise tag on impending free agent Jason Pierre-Paul, who bounced back and recorded 12.5 sacks after a career-low 2.0 in 2013. That said, past successful Giants teams have thrived with a dynamic pass rush. Albeit a bit undersized at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Ray has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that next step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. In addition, Kenny Britt, who played more than three-quarters of the team's offensive snaps, will be a free agent in a couple of weeks. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

In many of the previous editions of my mock draft, the Vikings have gone with either offensive lineman Brandon Scherff or Louisville wide receiver Devante Parker. Both are still on the board and would be worthwhile picks here, but Waynes, my top-ranked cornerback in this year's draft class, really boosted his stock at the combine by running a 4.31 40-yard dash and putting up 19 reps at 225 pounds. If he's still on the board here, however, Waynes paired with Xavier Rhodes would give the Vikings one of the better young cornerback duos.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. In addition, there is uncertainty at quarterback heading into 2015 and no team had fewer passing touchdowns than the Browns (12) last season.

A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of 2014, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete (4.56 forty, 42-inch vertical, 11-6 broad jump) at his size (6-foot-4, 269). Over the past three seasons, Dupree has a total of 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

As a whole, the Dolphins struggled in both pass and run blocking. Based on grades from PFF, the Dolphins ranked 31st in pass blocking and 27th in run blocking in 2014. Scherff played left tackle at Iowa and while he could play tackle at the next level, he may be better at guard and starting guard Daryn Colledge is a free agent. Either way, Colledge graded out as the 74th of 78 qualified guards last season.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

Armstead could certainly be drafted higher than this based on potential and upside. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility. Justin Smith will turn 36 years old in September.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Better as a run blocker than he is a pass protector, Peat has the length and foot quickness to develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL some day. For now, however, Texans starting right tackle Derek Newton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month.

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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February 26, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Collaborative, Post-Combine Edition

With the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine on Monday, we are still early in the process as teams prepare for the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins on April 30th in Chicago.

Even though some prospects saw their stock rise (or fall) after the Scouting Combine, it's important to remember that it's just a part of the process -- and a relatively small one; at least, when it comes to the on-field portion. In fact, the most important aspect of what happened in Indianapolis was the non-televised portion -- interviews and medical evaluations.

Given that free agency won't begin for a couple more weeks, team needs will undoubtedly change as teams sign (or lose) free agents on the open market.

With that said, Brendan Donahue (@DonnyWallStreet) and yours truly (@EDSFootball) will alternate picks, playing the role of general manager, in our latest 2015 NFL Mock Draft.

I will pick for teams with odd-numbered first-round pick; Brendan will pick for teams with even-numbered draft slots. Both will provide comments for their selections.

Here is our first-round collaborative 2015 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Kevin: With the Buccaneers releasing Josh McCown earlier this offseason, it was further indication that this pick will be a quarterback. There may be some debate between Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota, but Winston has the strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence and on-the-field leadership skills to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback. NFL Network's Steve Mariucci referred to Winston "the most astute X's and O's guy that he's ever put on the board."

Of course, the biggest concern with Winston is the off-the-field issues -- and those concerns are amplified given the nature of the position and this draft slot. Before the NFL Scouting Combine, however, reports were that Bucs coach Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota and it's hard to imagine that changing given Winston's strong performance on the field and in meeting rooms.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Brendan: I'm not sold on Zach Mettenberger and I don't think the Titans are either, or at least they shouldn't be. Mariota has the all of the physical tools you want in a QB, the question is will he be able to adapt to a pro-style offense. I think he has too much potential for the Titans to pass on here and it is up to them to develop him.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Kevin: The top overall prospect on my 2015 NFL Draft Big Board, Williams is a scheme-diverse defensive lineman that has the ability to win in a variety of ways at multiple spots along the defensive line. His ability and versatility has generated some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Richard Seymour and the sky is the limit for this 20-year-old defensive lineman.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Brendan: This was a tough call for me, not only because I think you are splitting hairs between Cooper and Kevin White, but also because it's the Raiders and you really just never know what they are going to do in the draft until the actual name is called. Cooper is about as polished as they come though and will be an immediate weapon for Derek Carr and will help his development.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

Kevin: Perhaps Washington would consider an offensive lineman or defensive back here as both are units in significant need of upgrades, but you can never have too many pass-rushers. Plus, Brian Orapko is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and Washington is not expected to re-sign him or use the franchise tag on him. One scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he thinks Gregory is "better than Ziggy Ansah," who was the fifth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Brendan: While the Jets do have a very good defensive line, one thing they are lacking is an edge rusher. Fowler could very well be the best one in the draft and will be a great addition to a Todd Bowles defense that likes to get after the quarterback.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Kevin: The Bears defense has a number of holes on all three levels as they ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed) last season. In addition, they will likely transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Not only can he stuff the run, but Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles last season for the Huskies with surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 335).

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Brendan: According to many scouts, Vic Beasley was the "winner" of the combine. He solidified, if not strengthened, his case for being a top-10 pick. The Falcons desperately need playmakers on defense and Beasley was already considered a playmaker as he averaged a sack every 42 snaps in his last two years at Clemson and left there as their all-time sack leader.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Kevin: It appears that the Giants will at least use their franchise tag on impending free agent Jason Pierre-Paul, who bounced back and recorded 12.5 sacks after a career-low 2.0 in 2013. Albeit a bit undersized at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Ray has an explosive first step and was last year's SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Brendan: Although the Rams have question marks about who will be playing QB for them this year and since there isn't a QB worth a pick here, their next best option is to surround whoever is throwing the ball for them with as much talent as possible. That's where White comes in. He is arguably the most talented WR in the draft and only helped his argument by running a 4.35 40 at the combine.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Kevin: I strongly considered Devante Parker here and a reunion of the former Louisville teammates would have made sense. More than likely, the Vikings will use early picks on providing second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with both weapons and protection. Scherff, last year's Outland Trophy winner, played left tackle for Iowa and while he could play left or right tackle in the NFL, he may be an even better guard. Not only did left tackle Matt Kalil struggle, but their interior offensive line play had some issues as well, and only four teams allowed more sacks (51) than the Vikings offensive line last year.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

Brendan: This seems like an obvious choice for the Browns after the suspension to Josh Gordon for all of the 2015 season. Every game I have seen Parker play, he consistently stands out and often looks like the best player on the field. He will immediately be the Browns No. 1 receiver and should have a very productive rookie season (and beyond).

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Kevin: The Saints defense was bad all around -- 29th vs. the run and 25th vs. the pass (25th) -- while allowing the second-most yards (384.0 per game) and fifth-most points (26.5 per game) in the NFL. Of the 108 qualified cornerbacks graded by PFF last year, the Saints have two under contract for 2015 -- Keenan Lewis and Corey White -- and they graded out as the 98th and 106th cornerbacks, respectively.

There's a good chance that Waynes, my top cornerback prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft, won't be available this late given his strong workout at the combine. Not only did the six-foot corner post the fastest 40-yard dash (4.31) among defensive backs, but he also posted a 38-inch vertical jump and did 19 reps (at 225 pounds) on the bench press.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): La'el Collins, OT, LSU

Brendan: Depending on what scout you talk to, Collins may be the best offensive tackle in the draft. The Dolphins can upgrade their O-Line as a whole so they have the ability to use him at tackle or plug him in at guard where he could excel.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Kevin: Green-Beckham, who was dismissed from Missouri and sat out last season as a member of the Sooners' scout team, begins his NFL career with off-the-field concerns and it's unclear how far he'll drop on draft day. If the 49ers ultimately feel comfortable using a top-15 pick on him, however, there is little doubt that DGB (6-5, 237, 4.49 forty) has the potential to be a difference-making wide receiver at the next level. With as much upside as any receiver in this year's draft class, DGB also fills a major need for the 49ers as Michael Crabtree is about to hit free agency and Anquan Boldin will turn 35 in October.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

Brendan: Another big winner of the combine, Dupree is the best pure pass rusher left in the draft and with the health concerns of last year's No. 1 pick, the Texans can add another piece to their defense that can help J.J. Watt get to the QB.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> My 2015 NFL Mock Draft

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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February 20, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition

With the 2014 NFL season now in the rear-view mirror and the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine upon us, NFL front offices have ramped up their evaluation process of prospects.

While the majority of a prospect's evaluation process will be based on what has already been done (film), plenty can and will change as prospects interview with and workout for teams.

In addition, the 2015 NFL free-agency period begins on March 10th and how a team addresses their needs in free agency will impact their approach with the draft, which will begin with Round 1 on April 30th in Chicago.

Over the course of the next couple of months, I will continue to make weekly updates and add more rounds until we mock out all seven rounds of the draft.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

Keep in mind, however, that mock drafts done 24 hours before the actual draft -- let alone in February and prior to free agency -- are generally going to be inaccurate. Based on 2014 NFL mock drafts tracked by The Huddle Report, the most accurate 2014 mock (of 115) nailed eight first-round prospects to their correct teams. (Note: We were tied for 34th in accuracy among the 115 mocks last year.)

My point is that you should view this mock draft, and any site's mock for that matter, as how I could see it playing out versus this is how it will definitely play out.

With that said, here is my projection for the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Unlike with Oregon's Marcus Mariota, who I've slotted here in earlier versions of my mock draft, Winston enters the draft process with multiple off-the-field red flags and NFL security departments will thoroughly scrutinize his character over the next couple of months leading up to the draft. The off-field incidents would be a concern for any prospect at any position, but it's especially concerning for a quarterback -- and more so for one that may be selected first overall -- as the face of the franchise.

In other words, the Bucs will need to feel comfortable with Winston's maturity and background, first and foremost, in order to be able to trust him as the first overall pick. Provided that the Bucs ultimately feel comfortable with his character, Winston has all of the tools to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback -- size, strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence, on-the-field leadership, etc. Although he lost his final collegiate game, Winston helped lead the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 games and an undefeated national championship season as a freshman.

Per ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota. In fact, Yasinskas reports that was a factor in choosing an offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter over Marc Trestman, who preferred Mariota.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

It wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Titans went with a quarterback like Mariota here. In fact, I slotted him here in my previous update. Some reports from both national media as well as local beat writers have suggested that the Titans will give Zach Mettenberger a shot to prove that he can be their quarterback of the future. That said, the team's general manager Ruston Webster said on Wednesday that the team is "not in a position to commit to anything."

Viewed by many (including me) as the top prospect (regardless of position) in this year's draft class, Williams has the size, strength, quickness, agility and versatility to play multiple spots along the defensive line and is a disruptive force that has drawn a ton of favorable comparisons to players like J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Richard Seymour.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Especially considering they will have to face Andrew Luck for the next decade or so, it would make sense to add someone like Gregory, who has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with Derek Carr, last year's second-round pick, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and expectations are that he won't be back. In addition, Ryan Kerrigan is entering a contract year, so adding a pass-rusher like Ray would make sense here. Either way, you'll never hear a general manager complain of having too many talented pass-rushers. .

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

If Mariota slips past the first two picks, it will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and the Eagles make a move to get in front of the Jets to take Mariota. If he's still on the board at this spot, the Jets would be thrilled.

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions. There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, but Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

And according to ESPN's Louis Riddick, it appears that Mariota has been "killing it" during interviews with teams at the NFL Scouting Combine:

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). As they likely transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, they need help on all three levels of their defense. With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 335), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) and has already played for new head coach Dan Quinn. (Quinn was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Florida in 2011 and 2012.)

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

It's a copy-cat league and the Giants could find themselves copying the success that the Cowboys had last season with the selection of Zach Martin, a left tackle in college that moved inside to become an All-Pro guard as a rookie. NFL Network's Mike Mayock made the direct comparison: "When I look at Brandon Scherff, I see a similar example (to current Dallas Cowboys G Zack Martin...). I see a bigger kid with longer arms. That lends you to believe that he could play outside more easily. Again, I believe he can play outside. However, I think his best position, because of his power, his toughness, his football sense, is inside. I think he's an All-Pro guard. But that doesn't mean he can't play tackle in the NFL."

Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer yards per carry than the Giants (3.6) and the Giants run-blocking graded out as 26th of 32 by PFF last season. Of 78 qualified guards graded by PFF, starters Weston Richburg and John Jerry graded out as 62nd and 66th, respectively.

On a side note, perhaps it's just me that finds it funny, but Scherff was a 280-pound high school quarterback that had a 190-pound center and as he said, "it should really have been reversed."

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Brian Quick was on his way to a breakout season in 2014, but it was cut short to a torn rotator cuff. Perhaps Quick takes that step forward in 2015, but he is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. In addition, Kenny Britt, who played more than three-quarters of the team's offensive snaps, will be a free agent next month. The top-ranked wide receiver in my 2015 prospect rankings, White has the size (6-3, 215), hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared White to Julio Jones.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Only four teams allowed more sacks than the Vikings (51) in 2014 and starting left tackle Matt Kalil really struggled last season. Among 84 offensive tackles graded by PFF, only Carolina's Byron Bell received a worse pass-blocking grade than Kalil, who is entering a contract year. If the Vikings were to select Peat, they could kick Kalil inside to guard where left guard Charlie Johnson has also struggled. At this point, however, Peat is a much better run blocker than he is in pass protection, but he has the tools -- size (6-foot-7, 313 pounds), length (34 3/8-inch arms) and foot quickness -- to succeed.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

Once again, the Browns will go into the season with a looming full-year suspension for Josh Gordon. Although last year's ban was eventually cut to 10 games, that won't happen this year. Not only is there uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into 2015, but no team had fewer passing touchdowns than the Browns (12) last season.

A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of 2014, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills." Parker would become an immediate upgrade over all of their eligible-to-play wide receivers next season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). One of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class, Beasley has a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Dolphins need an upgrade at cornerback over Cortland Finnegan, who started opposite Brent Grimes last season. In addition, Finnegan is a release candidate if he's not willing to accept a pay cut. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft. According to Tony Pauline, Waynes could be one of the few/only cornerbacks that runs a sub-4.4 forty and does 20-plus reps at 225 on the bench press at the combine.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

Armstead could certainly be drafted higher than this based on potential and upside. Described by an NFL general manager as "a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak," Armstead was a two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at Oregon and possesses excellent footwork and agility. Justin Smith will turn 36 years old in September.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

A converted defensive lineman, Clemmings has only played offense for two seasons, both at right tackle, at the collegiate level, and he possesses the athleticism and potential to play on the left side down the line, if necessary. That said, starting right tackle Derek Newton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month.

-> Continue to picks 17-32
-> Continue to Round 2

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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February 13, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Feb. 13th Update

Over the next two-plus months leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins with Round 1 on April 30th in Chicago, this mock draft will be updated on a weekly basis. In addition, more rounds will be added as we get closer to the draft.

[Note: Those updates will be made to our main 2015 NFL Mock Draft page.]

With that said, here is my projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Unlike with Oregon's Marcus Mariota, who I've slotted here in earlier versions of my mock draft, Winston enters the draft process with multiple off-the-field red flags and NFL security departments will thoroughly scrutinize his character over the next couple of months leading up to the draft. The off-field incidents would be a concern for any prospect at any position, but it's especially concerning for a quarterback -- and more so for one that may be selected first overall -- as the face of the franchise.

Provided that the Bucs ultimately feel comfortable with his character, Winston has all of the tools to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback -- size, strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence, on-the-field leadership, etc. Although he lost his final collegiate game, Winston helped lead the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 games and an undefeated national championship season as a freshman.

Per ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, Lovie Smith prefers Winston over Mariota. In fact, Yasinskas reports that was a factor in choosing an offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter over Marc Trestman, who preferred Mariota.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

In the past few updates, I've had Mariota slipping to the sixth pick (Jets) and that's still a possibility. And reports out of Tennessee have suggested that the Titans feel comfortable giving Zach Mettenberger more time to prove he's the long-term answer. That said, the Titans clearly need better play out of the quarterback position.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions.

There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system. That said, Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Viewed by many (including me) as the top player in this year's draft class, Williams is a disruptive force along the line of the scrimmage that has drawn a ton of favorable comparisons to players like J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Richard Seymour.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with last year's second-round pick Derek Carr, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and expectations are that he won't be back. In addition, Ryan Kerrigan is entering a contract year, so adding a pass-rusher like Gregory would make sense here. Either way, you'll never hear a general manager complain of having too many talented pass-rushers. Far from a finished product, Gregory has all of the physical tools to develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Ideally, the Jets would have an opportunity to select Mariota here. In this version of my mock, however, Mariota is already off the board.

The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength, but both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples) are due to become free agents after the 2015 season. Plus, Pace will turn 35 years old next October. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Ray set the school record with 14.5 sacks in 2014.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed) and they need help on all three levels of their defense as they likely transition to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. With surprising quickness for someone his size (6-2, 335), Shelton had 9.0 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and 93 tackles last season for the Huskies.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks last season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest in 2013 as well. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) and has played for new head coach Dan Quinn at Florida. (Quinn was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Florida in 2011 and 2012.)

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Giants had just 34 sacks in 2013, but they finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks in 2014. The majority of the 13-sack difference can be attributed to the bounce-back season for Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 12.5 sacks in 2014 (compared to 2.0 in 2013). That said, Pierre-Paul is due to hit free agency in March.

Especially if the Giants are unable to re-sign JPP (although I expect him to be re-signed), adding a pass-rusher would make sense to fill at least part of the void. Either way, a strong pass rush has long been one of the staples of successful Giants teams. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Over the past three seasons, Dupree has 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line is still one of the units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 in both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Second-year receiver Charles Johnson was a bright spot for the Vikings; fellow second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was not. As Teddy Bridgewater enters his second season, the Vikings will likely use early picks in the draft to improve the protection he receives and bolster the weapons around him. White has the size, hands and run-after-catch ability to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah had tweeted compared White, his top-ranked receiver, to Julio Jones.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

With great length and foot quickness, Peat has the potential to develop into the long-term replacement for Joe Thomas down the line. In the meantime, however, the Browns could use an upgrade over right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). One of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class, Beasley has a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Dolphins need an upgrade at cornerback over Cortland Finnegan, who started opposite Brent Grimes last season. In addition, Finnegan is a release candidate if he's not willing to accept a pay cut. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

With Michael Crabtree about to enter free agency and 34-year-old Anquan Boldin set to enter the final season of his contract, the 49ers could use this pick on a receiver. A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of the season, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Free safeties Kendrick Lewis and Danieal Manning are both set to become unrestricted free agents and starting strong safety D.J. Swearinger has underwhelmed. Swearinger graded out as the 78th of 87 qualified safeties by PFF last season. Collins is the top safety prospect in this year's draft class.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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February 06, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Feb. 6th Update

Over the next 12 weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft that begins with Round 1 on April 30th in Chicago, this mock draft will be updated on a weekly basis. In addition, more rounds will be added as we get closer to the draft.

[Follow @EDSFootball for updates.]

With that said, here is my projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Unlike with Oregon's Marcus Mariota, who I've slotted here in earlier versions of my mock draft, Winston enters the draft process with multiple off-the-field red flags and NFL security departments will thoroughly scrutinize his character over the next few months leading up to the draft. The off-field incidents would be a concern for any prospect at any position, but it's especially concerning for a quarterback -- and more so for one that may be selected first overall -- as the face of the franchise.

Provided that the Bucs ultimately feel comfortable with his character, Winston has all of the tools to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback -- size, strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence, on-the-field leadership, etc. Although he lost his final collegiate game, Winston helped lead the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 games and an undefeated national championship season as a freshman.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

It wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Titans went with a quarterback like Mariota here. Reports from the national media as well as local beat writers, however, seem to suggest that the Titans will give Zach Mettenberger a shot to prove that he can be their quarterback of the future.

Viewed by many (including me) as the top player in this year's draft class, Williams is a disruptive force along the line of the scrimmage that has drawn a ton of favorable comparisons to players like J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Richard Seymour.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

The Jaguars allowed a league-high 71 sacks last season and although offensive line may be their biggest need, there isn't an offensive lineman worthy of a top-three pick in this draft. Gregory has the athleticism and length to potentially develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with last year's second-round pick Derek Carr, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and expectations are that he won't be back. In addition, Ryan Kerrigan is entering a contract year, so adding a pass-rusher like Ray would make sense here. Either way, you'll never hear a general manager complain of having too many talented pass-rushers.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

If Mariota slips past the first two picks, it will be interesting to see if Chip Kelly and the Eagles make a move to get in front of the Jets to take Mariota. If he's still on the board at this spot, the Jets would be thrilled.

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions.

There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system. That said, Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). Not only are upgrades needed in their secondary, but starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest last season as well. A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17) and has played for new coach Dan Quinn at Florida. (Quinn was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Florida in 2011 and 2012.)

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Giants had just 34 sacks in 2013, but they finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks in 2014. The majority of the 13-sack difference can be attributed to the bounce-back season for Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 12.5 sacks in 2014 (compared to 2.0 in 2013). That said, Pierre-Paul is due to hit free agency in March.

Especially if the Giants are unable to re-sign JPP (although I expect him to be re-signed), adding a pass-rusher would make sense to fill at least part of the void. Either way, a strong pass rush has long been one of the staples of successful Giants teams. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Over the past three seasons, Dupree has 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line is still one of the units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 in both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Second-year receiver Charles Johnson was a bright spot for the Vikings; fellow second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was not. As Teddy Bridgewater enters his second season, the Vikings will likely use early picks in the draft to improve the protection he reserves and bolster the weapons around him. White has the speed, size and ball skills to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah had tweeted a while back that White was his top-ranked receiver, comparing him to Julio Jones.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Given the full-year suspension of Josh Gordon and looming free agency for tight end Jordan Cameron, few teams have a weaker returning group of pass catchers than the Browns will have in 2015. I strongly considered going with Louisville's Devante Parker here, but the Browns had a chance to add an elite wideout last year and elected to go in a different direction (with a potential full-year ban for Gordon on the horizon in 2014 as well). If they have Shelton (or another prospect) ranked higher, I don't think it's a slam dunk that they go wide receiver here (as much as that would make sense).

The Browns ranked last in the league in rushing defense (141.6 yards per game) and allowed 4.5 yards per carry, only three teams allowed more. In addition to being built like a Mack truck, Shelton has excellent agility for his size as shown by his 16.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks in 14 games in 2014.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). One of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class, Beasley has a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined.

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season. Not surprisingly, Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player. While he may get the 'tweener label, Thompson is an outstanding athlete that is solid against the run as well as in pass coverage and rushing the passer.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

With Michael Crabtree about to enter free agency and 34-year-old Anquan Boldin set to enter the final season of his contract, the 49ers could use this pick on a receiver. A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of the season, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

In terms of defensive units, the secondary was the team's weak link last year. In addition, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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January 30, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Jan. 30th Update

With Super Bowl XLIX only a couple of days away, the offseason will soon begin for all 32 NFL teams.

Until then, the actual draft order for the first 30 selections of this year's draft is set. Meanwhile, the winner of Super Bowl XLIX will get the 32nd pick and the runner-up will get the 31st overall pick.

This mock will be updated at least weekly from now until the 2015 NFL Draft (April 30-May 2). In addition, more rounds will be added to this mock as we get closer to the draft.

[Future updates will be posted on our main 2015 NFL Mock Draft page.]

With that said, here is my projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

In all of my previous updates, I've slotted a quarterback to the Bucs, but it's been Oregon's Marcus Mariota instead of Winston. As it was with Mariota slotted here, it's more of a 51/49 split (than a strong conviction) with Winston slotted here. With three months to go until the 2015 NFL Draft, ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote on Thursday that "Mariota shapes up as the most likely No. 1 pick," but the evaluation process is in the early stages for NFL franchises.

Unlike with Mariota, Winston enters the draft process with multiple character red flags that NFL security teams will investigate thoroughly. As much as those would be a concern for any prospect at any position, it's especially concerning for a quarterback -- and more so for one that may be selected first overall.

That said, Winston has all of the tools to develop into a franchise-changing quarterback -- size, strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence, on-the-field leadership, etc. Although he lost his final collegiate game, Winston helped lead the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 games and an undefeated national championship season as a freshman.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

It wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Titans went with a quarterback like Mariota here. Reports from the national media as well as local beat writers, however, seem to suggest that the Titans will give Zach Mettenberger a shot to prove that he can be their quarterback of the future.

If they go in a different direction, Gregory would make sense as the Titans ranked middle of the pack in sacks (39) and Derrick Morgan, their team leader in sacks (6.5), is set to become an unrestricted free agent. With exceptional athleticism, Gregory has the potential to develop into an elite pass-rusher at the next level.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Drawing a ton of favorable comparisons to players like J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Richard Seymour, Williams is a disruptive force along the line of the scrimmage. While defensive line may be one of the relative strengths of the Jaguars, many (including me) believe that Williams is the top prospect in this year's draft class.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with last year's second-round pick Derek Carr, but one of their focal points in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around Carr. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are set for unrestricted free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively. If they are unable to re-sign one or both, adding a pass-rusher like Ray would make sense here. Either way, you'll never hear a general manager complain of having too many talented pass-rushers.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The transition to a new coaching staff and front office is often followed by a transition to a new quarterback. With new head coach Todd Bowles referring to incumbent Geno Smith as a "great college quarterback," it was far from a ringing endorsement for Smith, who has a career 25:34 TD-to-INT ratio.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions.

There will naturally be some questions about how well and quickly Mariota will transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system. That said, Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this past season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. They ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.6 PPG allowed) and 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG allowed). Not only are upgrades needed in their secondary, but starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

One of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class, Beasley has a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined. The Falcons are in dire need of pass-rush help as only the Bengals (20) generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest last season as well.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Giants had just 34 sacks in 2013, but they finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks this season. The majority of the 13-sack difference can be attributed to the bounce-back season of Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 12.5 sacks in 2014 (compared to 2.0 in 2013). That said, Pierre-Paul is due to hit free agency in March.

Especially if the Giants are unable to re-sign JPP (although I expect him to be re-signed), adding a pass-rusher would make sense to fill at least part of the void. Either way, a strong pass rush has long been one of the staples of successful Giants teams. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Over the past three seasons, Dupree has 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line is still one of the units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 in both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Second-year receiver Charles Johnson was a bright spot for the Vikings; fellow second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was not. As Teddy Bridgewater enters his second season, the Vikings will likely use early picks in the draft to improve the protection he reserves and bolster the weapons around him. White has the speed, size and ball skills to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah had tweeted a while back that White was his top-ranked receiver, comparing him to Julio Jones.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

The Browns ranked last in the league in rushing defense (141.6 yards per game) and allowed 4.5 yards per carry, only three teams allowed more. Despite being built like a Mack truck, Shelton has excellent agility for his size as shown by his 16.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks in 14 games this season.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17).

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season. Not surprisingly, Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player. While he may get the 'tweener label, Thompson is an outstanding athlete that is solid against the run as well as in pass coverage and rushing the passer.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

With Michael Crabtree about to enter free agency and 34-year-old Anquan Boldin set to enter the final season of his contract, the 49ers could use this pick on a receiver. A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of the season, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

In terms of defensive units, the secondary was the team's weak link last year. In addition, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

-> Also, check out our 2015 NBA Mock Draft

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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January 16, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Jan. 16th Update

With four teams still alive in the playoffs, the actual draft order for the first 28 selections of this year's draft is set.

The final four picks, however, will be based on how the remaining teams fare in this weekend's Conference Championship Games and then Super Bowl XLIX. In other words, the Super Bowl winner will have the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl runner-up will have the 31st pick, et cetera.

[Note: Future updates will be posted on our main 2015 NFL Mock Draft page.]

With that said, here is my projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Although the NFL Draft is more than three months away, it appears that the Bucs will select a quarterback with the first overall pick. Over the next three months, however, there will plenty of debate on whether it should be Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston as that pick.

If the decision were purely based on the field, the selection would almost certainly be Winston. And while the pick still may be Winston, there are plenty of questions about his maturity off the field. With Mariota, there are absolutely no questions about his character.

There will naturally be some questions about Mariota's ability to transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style system, however. That said, Mariota possesses good size, a strong arm to stretch the field and difference-making mobility for the position in addition to impeccable intangibles.

Over the course of his collegiate career, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, rushed for 2,237 yards and accounted for 136 touchdowns -- 105 passing, 29 rushing and two receiving -- with only 14 interceptions.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Media reports suggest that the Titans could go in a different direction assuming that they believe ex-LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger could be their long-term solution -- or at least get a chance to try to prove that he's their long-term solution at the position.

Winston has all of the tools to be a franchise-changing quarterback -- size, strong arm, accuracy, football intelligence, on-the-field leadership, etc. Although he lost his final collegiate game, Winston helped lead the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 games.

FanDuel's $2M NFL Sunday Million: FanDuel is running a one-day contest this Sunday with $2 Million in prizes ($200K to first).

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Drawing a ton of favorable comparisons to players like J.J. Watt, Gerald McCoy and Richard Seymour, Williams is a disruptive force along the line of the scrimmage. While defensive line may be one of the relative strengths of the Jaguars, Williams is arguably the top prospect in this year's draft class.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Raiders have found their quarterback of the future with last year's second-round pick Derek Carr, but one of their focuses in free agency and/or the draft should be to improve the weapons around him. As Alabama's first Biletnikoff winner in school history, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which ranked first or second in the nation this season.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are set for unrestricted free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively. If they are unable to re-sign one or both, adding a difference maker like Gregory would make a ton of sense here. Either way, you'll never hear a general manager complain of having too many talented pass-rushers.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Ideally for the Jets, one (or both) of the top-two quarterback prospects will slip to them here. If not, they get an explosive edge rusher in Ray, who ranked third in the country with 14.5 sacks this season. Current starting outside linebackers -- Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace -- are both due to become free agents after the 2015 season and Pace turns 35 in October.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. Not only are upgrades needed in their secondary, but starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

One of the best pass rushers in this year's draft class, Beasley has a total of 25.0 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss in 26 games over the past two seasons combined. Only the Bengals (20) have generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest last season as well.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Giants had just 34 sacks in 2013, but they finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks this season. The majority of the 13-sack difference can be attributed to the bounce-back season of Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 12.5 sacks in 2014 after getting only 2.0 in the previous season. That said, Pierre-Paul is due to hit free agency in March.

If the Giants are unable to re-sign JPP, adding a pass-rusher would make sense to fill at least part of the void. Either way, a strong pass rush has long been one of the staples of successful Giants teams. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Over the past three seasons, Dupree has 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line is still one of the units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 of both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) grades from PFF last season.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of the season, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in just six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The highs and lows with Josh Gordon have been extremely high (no pun intended) and extremely low. Suspended by the league for the first 10 games of last season, Gordon was also suspended by the club for their regular-season finale. And based on reports from beat writers, the sense is that Gordon won't be back in 2015.

With two first-round picks in this year's draft, it would only make sense for one of them to be used on a receiver given the uncertainty surrounding Gordon whether he's back with the club or not. White has the speed, size and ball skills to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah recently tweeted that White was his top-ranked receiver while also comparing him to Julio Jones.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (15.0), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17).

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season. Not surprisingly, Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player. While he may get the 'tweener label, Thompson is an outstanding athlete that is solid against the run as well as in pass coverage and rushing the passer.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

With Michael Crabtree about to enter free agency and 34-year-old Anquan Boldin set to enter the final season of his contract, the 49ers could use this pick on a receiver. Off-the-field issues led to his dismissal from Mizzou (and subsequent transfer to Oklahoma), but Green-Beckham has as much physical talent as any receiver in this year's draft class.

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

In terms of defensive units, the secondary was the team's weak link last year. In addition, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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January 14, 2015

Marcus Mariota to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft is tomorrow (Thursday, January 15th).

Per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft, which was widely expected.

Mariota will battle Florida State's Jameis Winston, who declared earlier this offseason, to be the first quarterback selected and potentially the first prospect selected in the draft.

Beyond Mariota and Winston, this is not viewed as a particularly strong class at quarterback.

Both Tampa Bay and Tennessee, who own the top-two picks, could be in the market for a franchise quarterback although the Titans could go in a different direction if they believe that Zach Mettenberger is their quarterback of the future.

If one or both of the top two quarterbacks get past Tennessee, it's difficult to envision either quarterback falling outside of the top-10 picks.

In my latest 2015 NFL mock draft, I have Mariota going first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as do the majority of mock drafts in our 2015 NFL mock draft database.

Mariota, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has a unique combination of dual-threat skills although there will be some concern about his transition from Oregon's spread offense to a pro-style offense.

While he certainly did not have a great game against Ohio State on Monday, Mariota finishes his collegiate career with 10,796 passing yards, 105 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions to go along with 2,237 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. He also has two receptions, both of which were turned into touchdowns.


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January 09, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Jan. 9th Update

The actual draft order for the first 24 selections of this year's draft is set based on regular-season records, strength of schedules and the results of the Wild Card round of playoff games.

The final eight picks, however, will be based on how the remaining playoff teams fare. In other words, the Super Bowl winner will have the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl runner-up will have the 31st pick, et cetera.

Below is the 2015 NFL mock draft from Kevin Hanson (follow on Twitter) and this mock will be updated at least weekly from now until the 2015 NFL Draft (April 30-May 2).

With that said, here is my projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

With the NFL Draft more than three months away, the Bucs will almost certainly select a quarterback with the first overall pick. And based on odds/futures from Sportsbook.ag, Mariota seems like a lock with 1/4 odds of being selected first overall. Even so, I'm not necessarily convinced that Mariota is a lock as the quarterback to be selected.

That said, there is a lot to like about Mariota. Not only does he possess a strong arm and incredible mobility at the position, but Mariota has unquestionable intangibles. If there is a concern, it's the transition from Oregon's spread offense to the anticipation needed for throws into tighter windows at the next level.

2. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Recent reports suggest that the Titans could go in a different direction here assuming they believe that ex-LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is their long-term solution. And there has been a laundry list of off-the-field stuff with Winston that could lead to a draft-day slide. After all, character red flags are bad regardless of position, but they are even more of a potential concern with quarterbacks.

Looking past the off-the-field issues, Winston would be the easy choice to go first overall if it were based purely on what happens on the football field. Playing in a pro-style offense, Winston has shown the ability to make throws with anticipation and he throws an accurate and catchable ball. Although he has demonstrated a lack of maturity off the field, there's no questioning his leadership skills on it as he has led the Seminoles to wins in 26 of 27 collegiate games.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

One year after finishing last in sacks (31), the Jaguars defense was one of only seven to sack the quarterback at least 45 times in 2014. The team's leading pass rushers were Sen'Derrick Marks, who tore his ACL in Week 17, and Chris Clemons, who turns 34 in October, and neither is a true difference-making rusher. With some injuries and more focus (double teams) from opposing offenses, Gregory's year-over-year numbers declined, but he is a freak athlete with tremendous upside.

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Looking back at the (mostly high) first-round picks by the franchise over the past decade or so, they've had more than their fair share of disappointments. That said, they hit the jackpot with last year's top-five selection of Buffalo's Khalil Mack, PFF's top-graded 4-3 outside linebacker in 2014. The Raiders get another potential difference maker for their front-seven here with the disruptive and versatile Williams.

5. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

For the first time since their blockbuster trade with the Rams for the right to select RG3 with the second overall pick, Washington gets to keep their first-round pick this year. Regardless of whether RG3 is back in the nation's capital next season, one area needing improvement is their pass protection. Only the Jaguars (71) allowed more sacks this past season than the Redskins (58).

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

A couple of meaningless wins down the stretch cost the Jets an opportunity to compete for a top-two pick and the ability to draft a franchise-changing quarterback. If the Titans don't select Winston, it's difficult to envision the Jets passing on him at this spot.

The 2014 recipient of the Fred Biletnikoff Award, Cooper finished with 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Cooper may not have the upside of some wide receivers selected this high in previous drafts, but this pick continues the process of improving the team's receiving corps that started with the free-agent signing of Eric Decker and trade for Percy Harvin over the past year.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. Starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

An explosive edge rusher, Ray has 22.5 tackles for loss, third-most in the nation, and 13.0 sacks this season. One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Falcons has been their pass rush. Only the Bengals (20) have generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (22), who had the third-fewest last season as well.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

The Giants had just 34 sacks in 2013, but they finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks this season. The majority of the 13-sack difference can be attributed to the bounce-back season of Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 12.5 sacks in 2014 after getting only 2.0 in the previous season. That said, JPP is due to hit free agency in March as an unrestricted free agent.

If the Giants are unable to re-sign Pierre-Paul, adding a pass-rusher would make sense to fill at least part of the void. Either way, you can never have too many pass-rushers and a strong pass rush has been one of the staples of successful Giants teams. A former tight end, Dupree is a freak athlete with a 40.5-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds. Over the past three seasons, Dupree has 21.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.

10. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Even after selecting Greg Robinson with the second overall pick last year, offensive line is still one of the units in needs of upgrades and reinforcements. The Rams ranked in the bottom 10 of both run blocking (-55.1) and pass blocking (-27.5) gradess from PFF last season. Stanford's starting left tackle over the past two seasons has an excellent combination of size, length and foot quickness.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Starting left tackle Matt Kalil has really struggled this season. Among 84 offensive tackles graded by PFF, only Carolina's Byron Bell has received a worse pass-blocking grade than Kalil. If the Vikings were to select Stanley, they could kick Kalil inside to guard where left guard Charlie Johnson has also struggled.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

The highs and lows with Josh Gordon have been extremely high (no pun intended) and low. Suspended by the league for the first 10 games of last season, Gordon was also suspended by the club for their regular-season finale. And based on reports from beat writers, the sense is that Gordon won't be back in 2015.

With two first-round picks in this year's draft, it would only make sense for one of them to be used on a receiver with the uncertainty surrounding Gordon. White has the speed, size and ball skills to be a difference maker and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah recently tweeted that White was his top-ranked receiver while also comparing him to Julio Jones.

13. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

Bad against both the run (29th in the NFL) and pass (25th), the Saints allowed the second-most yards (384.0 per game) in the NFL and fifth-most points (26.5 per game). They also struggled to get to the quarterback as they finished in the bottom eight in sacks (34). A versatile player with a non-stop motor, Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (12.0) and QB hurries (15) and ranked second in sacks (5.5).

14. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season. Not surprisingly, Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player this year. While he may get the 'tweener label, Thompson is an outstanding athlete that is solid against the run as well as in pass coverage and rushing the passer.

15. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

With Michael Crabtree about to enter free agency and 34-year-old Anquan Boldin set to enter the final season of his contract, the 49ers could end up selecting a receiver with this pick. A broken foot sidelined Parker for the first seven games of the season, but the 6-foot-3 wideout finished with a 43/855/5 line in six games. NFL.com's Jeremiah compared Parker to Keenan Allen saying Parker is "smooth, physical & has outstanding instincts/ball skills."

16. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Perhaps the Texans overachieved given their limitations at quarterback, but one of the team's other weaknesses has been their pass defense. Meanwhile, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns of Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in this year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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December 24, 2014

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Christmas Eve Update

With one week to go in the 2014 NFL regular season, the draft order of my 2015 NFL mock draft is based on the inverse order of current NFL standings. That said, the final 12 picks of the mock draft contain six (current) playoff teams from each conference.

The actual draft order for the first 20 selections of next year's draft will be determined following Week 17 games. For the final 12 picks, however, they will be based on how the 12 playoff teams fare. In other words, the Super Bowl winner will have the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl runner-up will have the 31st pick, et cetera.

With that said, here is my early projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Perhaps the Titans believe that Zach Mettenberger, their sixth-round pick last season, is the quarterback of the future, but their offense struggled to score points this season (16.3 points per game, 30th in the NFL) and it would be hard to imagine the team passing on Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston. The reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, Mariota is a talented dual-threat quarterback with off-the-charts intangibles.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Given that the team's belief in Josh McCown (or apparent lack of belief in Mike Glennon), the Bucs are likely to go with whichever of the top-two quarterbacks remain on the board at this spot. If it weren't for the off-the-field issues, Winston would likely be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. What makes Winston's poor decisions off the field more of a head-scratcher is the fact that he's a strong leader that makes excellent decisions on the football field. In his two seasons as the team's quarterback, the Seminoles have won 27 consecutive games including last year's national championship.

[Editor's note: Thinking of giving daily fantasy sports (DFS) a try? DraftKings is offering a 100-percent deposit bonus (up to $600).]

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

The Jaguars could certainly go with a pass rusher like Randy Gregory here, but I think Williams would be in play for this pick as well. With plenty of quickness and strength, Williams, my top-ranked prospect in this year's draft, has the versatility to play a few different spots along the defensive line and there is no such thing as too much defensive line depth.

4. New York Jets (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength, but both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples) are due to become free agents after the 2015 season. Plus, Pace will turn 35 years old next October. An explosive and fluid athlete, Gregory has a total of 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

5. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Without much help, rookie Derek Carr has had an impressive first NFL season. Although he has completed only 58.6 percent of his pass attempts for 5.5 yards per attempt, Carr has thrown 20 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. Over his past three games including wins over the 49ers and Bills, Carr has posted a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio. That said, the Raiders would be wise to add upgrades to their receiving corps and start the process with this year's Biletnikoff winner.

6. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

For the first time since trading with the Rams for the right to select RG3 with the second overall pick, Washington has a first-round pick. (Of course, there is plenty of uncertainly about RG3's status for 2015 and beyond.) That said, only Jacksonville has allowed more sacks this season than Washington.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. Starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and have graded out as the 62nd and 44th (of 86) safeties this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

An explosive edge rusher, Ray has 21.0 tackles for loss, tied for third-most in the nation, and 12.5 sacks this season. One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Falcons has been their pass rush. Only the Bengals (20) have generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (21), who had the third-fewest last season as well.

9. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Starting left tackle Matt Kalil has really struggled this season. Among 83 offensive tackles graded by PFF, only Carolina's Byron Bell has received a worse pass-blocking grade than Kalil through Week 16. If the Vikings were to select Peat, they could kick Kalil inside to guard where left guard Charlie Johnson has also struggled.

10. New York Giants (Draft History): Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

After struggling to get to the passer in 2013, the Giants rank fourth in the league sacks this year behind Jason Pierre-Paul's bounce-back season. Not only does JPP have 10.5 sacks on the year, but he has seven of those sacks in the past four games. Pierre-Paul is due to become an unrestricted free agent in March, however. Despite his size (6-9, 280), Oakman possesses rare athleticism and an explosive first step.

11. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

In a disappointing season for the Saints, much of the blame can be placed on the defense. New Orleans ranked 29th in scoring defense (26.9 points per game allowed) and 31st in total defense (390.9 yards per game allowed). With just 31 sacks (only seven teams have fewer), adding an explosive pass-rusher like Beasley would make sense for the Saints. Following up a season with 13.0 sacks and 23.0 tackles for loss last year, Beasley has 11.0 sacks and 18.5 TFL this season.

12. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Of the 39 4-3 outside linebackers graded by PFF this season, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a free agent after the 2015 season, has graded out as the 36th best (or fourth worst?). Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season and won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player.

13. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Like Thompson, one of Fowler's biggest strengths is his versatility as well as his high motor. Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (12.0) and QB hurries (15) and ranked second in sacks (5.5).

14. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Saying that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense has struggled this season would be an understatement. Only the Jets have averaged fewer passing yards per game than the 49ers this season. With Michael Crabtree set to enter free agency and Anquan Boldin turning 35 next season, adding an elite weapon like Parker would fill a void in both the short and long term.

15. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Perhaps the Texans have overachieved given their variety of starters at the quarterback position, but one of the team's other weaknesses has been their pass defense. Houston has allowed 251.9 passing YPG, ninth-most in the NFL, and 27 touchdowns. In addition, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns with Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in next year's draft.

16. Cleveland Browns -- via Buffalo (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Although the Browns ended a four-game drought of no passing touchdowns last week, no team has fewer passing touchdowns this season than the Browns (12). While Josh Gordon missed the vast majority of the season serving a 10-game suspension, the Browns surprisingly did not draft a wide receiver last year even though they knew about the looming suspension. With two first-rounders this year, using one of them at the position would make sense.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

To keep track of our updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.


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